24 February 2014
Trade ministers in town for meeting, but not expected to conclude process
TRADE ministers from 12 Asia-Pacific nations are in town to resume talks on an ambitious regional pact that is still on track to be sealed this year.
Experts say the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, which end tomorrow, will probably not conclude the complex process, with April cited as the earliest possible completion date.
The TPP talks began in March 2010 with the aim of a deal by the end of last year, but key issues, such as those involving market access, could not be resolved in time.
Economists have noted that missing the timeline is not the key issue. Rather, the most important factor is that all parties agree on a deep level of commitment to ensure a high-quality agreement.
The TPP has been hailed as a cutting edge, 21st-century trade pact that goes beyond removing just tariffs to tackle broader environmental and intellectual property issues.
Dr Deborah Elms, a TPP specialist and head of the Temasek Foundation Centre for Trade and Negotiations at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said a conclusion this year is likely, with April the earliest possible date.
Dr Elms told The Straits Times yesterday: “They are likely to come out of this meeting and say they have made substantial progress and are nearly finished.”
She added that such talks usually get “very hard” towards the end because the negotiators could be dealing with “highly sensitive political issues” which they could have been putting off earlier.
GPO / RSIS / Print
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